Dalmatian – Everything You Need To Know

Dalmatian is a medium-sized, purebred, and most recognized dog on the planet. Their adorable, dignified looks and unique black spots on their coats are best known for their role in the movie 101 Dalmatians. They have a history that goes back hundreds of years and are primarily bred as coach dogs. They are athletic and were used as hunter dogs, firehouse dogs, and circus performers. Dalmatians are full of energy and will make excellent running partners. Above all, they are charming, affectionate, and love going around with their families. Gather your time to have a quality session with these pawmates!

Dalmatian Overview

Dalmatians are the all-time favorites owing to their spotted coat. White and black are the most common color combinations. However, Dalmatians with liver, blue, brindle, or lemon coat colors are found due to recessive genes. Tricolor Dals and long-coat Dals are also rarely found. 

Dalmatians make beautiful family and companion dogs; Some are excellent therapy dogs. They get along with children and other pets quickly with early socialization and scheduled training. Feel protected with these Walt- Disney-popularized Dal puppies.

Dalmatian Pros and Cons

Intelligent and loyalSheds a lot
Unique and adorable looksShy around people
Low-maintenanceProne to deafness
Energetic Not hypoallergenic

Dalmatian Basic Information

  • Name: Dalmatian
  • Origin: Croatia
  • Group: Companion dogs
  • Size: Medium
  • Height: 19 to 24 inches                   
  • Weight: 45 to 75 pounds
  • Coat: Smooth and short
  • Color: White coat with black or liver spots
  • Energy: High
  • Activities: Watchdog, coaching dogs, guard dogs, shepherd, circus dogs.
  • Barking Level: Low
  • Shedding Level: High
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Litter Size: 6-9 puppies
  • Other Names: Carriage dog, Spotted Coach dog, Leopard Carriage dog, Firehouse dog, Plum Pudding dog, Dal, English Coach dog.
  • Original Passtime: Guard dogs
  • Life Span: 10-13 years
  • Club Recognition: American Kennel Club (AKC), The Dalmatian Club of America (DCA), United Kennel Club (UKC).

History of Dalmatian

Dalmatians are believed to have originated in Croatia based on several historical sources. They obtained their name from a place called Dalmatia in Croatia. They traveled with the ancient Romans and were called Gypsies. 

Dalmatians were bred for several uses over the centuries. They were primarily used as guard dogs and later as shepherds, ratters, coaching dogs, and circus dogs. They were bred as coaching dogs in England that guarded and coached horses. This led the dog to be used as a firehouse dog in the United States. Dalmatians were used to run the horses during a fire and also rescue people from buildings. They also acted as a watchdog for the firefighters. However, Dalmatians are now family companions, but many firehouses still use them as their mascots across the country.

Dalmatian Highlights

  • Dalmatians are energetic and need daily exercise. Else they get easily bored and destructive.
  • They love to be around their humans and do not like to spend too much time alone.
  • They are very active dogs and can accidentally cause harm to small children.
  • Dalmatians rose to fame with the Disney movie 101 Dalmatians.
  • Dalmatians shed a lot, and hence frequent brushing is needed.
  • Dalmatian puppies are prone to deafness and have the possibility of being born with deafness in one ear.
  • They have a unique urinary system among the other dog breeds and have special needs to avoid medical complications. 

Dalmatian Personality

Dalmatians are medium-sized dogs that grow up to  19-24 inches and weigh about 48-55 pounds. They have distinctive spots and a unique, adorable look. The coat color is white with black spots all over. However, the marks are invisible in puppies. The coat is short, dense, and smooth. They shed a lot and are not hypoallergenic. 

Dalmatian’s eyes are round, medium-sized, and blue-colored with an intelligent expression. The ears are medium-sized and proportionate with the head, and the tips are rounded. The tail is inserted low down and reaches the hock. Dalmatians are a treat to the eyes as they carry themselves in a dignified manner.

Friendliness Overview

Affection levelHigh

Adaptability Overview

Good for apartment livingLow
Good for new ownersLow
Sensitivity levelHigh
Tolerates being aloneLow 
Cold toleranceHigh
Heat toleranceLow

Dalmatian Physical Features

Head: The head is erect, broad, and deep. The eyes are almond-shaped, brown, and medium-sized, with a soft expression. The ears are medium-shaped, vertical, triangular, and rounded at the tip. The skull is broad with a large and bulky muzzle in proportion to the head. The nose, lips, and eye rims are always black, except for the dogs with red coats. Dalmatians with red coats have brown lips, eyes, and noses.

Neck: The neck is strong and arched. 

Topline: The backline slightly slopes towards the rear, wedge-shaped and muscular. 

Body:  The body is compactly built with a well-developed chest. The loins are well-muscled.

Tail: The tail is flurry and moderately set.

Forequarters: The shoulders are moderately sloping. The forelegs are strong and muscled; The feet are tight and deep with well-cushioned pads; The toes are well-arched, with hair growing between them. The pads are thick and tough, while the toenails are short and robust.

Hindquarters: The rear legs are broad and heavily muscled. Dewclaws on the hind legs are undesirable and should be removed.

Coat: The coat is double-coated, thick, and coarse. The undercoat is dense, oily, and wooly and varies in length. It is generally short and less dense during the summer. 

Color:  Gray, sable, black, red with white, white, and brown. 

Gait: Gait is steady, agile, and well-balanced, with good reach and strong drive.

Dalmatian Temperament

Dalmatians are high-energy dogs and make excellent companions. They have the endless capacity to run and can run miles in one go. They are athletic and excel in canine sports like agility and flyball. However, they need much exercise and training to correct their behavioral problems in puppyhood. They are highly active and intelligent. They are great with older kids and make a lovely playmate. Their enthusiasm for games makes them the best partner for your children. With early socialization, they can get along with other cats and dogs. They love to be around their humans and suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for a long time. They need bigger space to run and are not suitable for apartment living. Their overall temperament includes:

  • Outgoing
  • Smart
  • Intelligent
  • Playful
  • Athletic
  • Affectionate
  • Dignified 

Dalmatian Training

Dalmatians are intelligent, eager to please their pet parents and respond well to training. Like any other dog, they need early socialization and puppy training classes. The activity requires patience and consistency during the period. They are sensitive to any adverse reactions and need positive reinforcement while training. They love being around people, and treats and cuddling do wonders while training. They are active and look forward to the training sessions. They enjoy playing fetch, which helps in training regarding behavioral corrections. Dalmatians do not respond to harsh commands; lots of praise, cuddles, and treats work wonders during the training. Obedience training and socialization help with behavioral correction and bring out the best in any dog. Their activity can include the following:

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Trainability Overview

Easy to trainHigh
Prey driveLow 
Mouthiness tendenciesLow 
Barking and Howling tendenciesLow 
Wanderlust tendenciesHigh 

Dalmatian Exercise

Dalmatians are at their best fit when they get adequate exercise. A daily walk of 15-30 minutes will be ideal. They love to chase balls, run along the backside, jog along their owner, and have nice long hikes. Above all this, they are happiest when around their human friends. They also enjoy swimming, walking, hiking, and canine agility games. They excel in agility, dock jumping, flyball, herding, obedience, rally, and tracking. However, keep your puppies from vigorous exercises. A proper exercise routine helps the dog with the following benefits:

  • Social interaction
  • Weight control
  • Stress relief
  • Behavioral corrections like excessive chewing, persistent barking
  • Brain stimulation
  • Strengthening muscles
  • Routine toileting
  • Mental health and happiness

Exercise Needs Overview

Energy levelHigh
Exercise needsHigh

Dalmatian Grooming

Dalmatians are double-coated and shed heavily. The coats are smooth, short-haired, and velvety but have high grooming needs. Their skin needs regular brushing, 3-4 times per week. The hair at its paws has to be trimmed to avoid the floor getting dirty. They are easy to groom, and you can brush the coat more than once a week to prevent shedding. Wipe the wrinkles and folds on the skin with a clean cloth to remove dirt. They may need extra brushing during their shedding season. Brushing helps remove matted hair and pull out the loose fur during shedding. One of the essential parts of grooming is bathing which keeps the dog clean. However, frequent bathing causes dry skin and itches. Bath your dog using pH-balanced shampoos; pet wipes will keep your dog’s coat fresh, clean, and shiny. You can also bathe them once a week. However, daily brushing helps to keep the fur from knots and tangles.  

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Dalmatians are prone to collect ear wax quickly. Hence, ears should be cleaned and regularly checked as they are prone to ear problems. Brush their teeth daily to prevent plaque and other dental problems. Never brush their teeth with a stiff brush, as it will harm the gums and teeth. Also, make sure to use dog-friendly toothpaste. 

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Also, clean their eyes and trim their nails as a part of everyday grooming needs. Check their toenails weekly, as long nails may harm and injure the dog. You can cut the toenails with a commercial dog nail trimmer or with the help of a vet or professional groomer.

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Grooming Overview

Easy to groomHigh
Drooling tendenciesLow 
Amount of sheddingHigh

Dalmatian Health

Dalmatians are generally healthy dogs. Still, like any other dog breed, they are prone to specific health conditions.

Health Overview

General healthLow 
Weight gain tendenciesHigh 

Hereditary Deafness: Some dogs are born deaf, and others may develop it with age. While hereditary deafness is due to genetic defects, acquired deafness results from decreased blood supply to the cochlea of the inner ear resulting in the loss of hair cells necessary for sound transmission. Deafness may present unilaterally (deafness in one ear) or bilaterally (deafness in both ears). Bilaterally deaf dogs require some special considerations. To get to know your pet better, you can subject your pet to the BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response), which helps you detect deafness in dogs. Sadly, AKC recommends euthanizing all puppies that are born deaf.

Bladder Stone: Bladder stones occur in Dalmatians. This may be because of having weak urinary tracts. Urinary stones occur when certain minerals build up within a dog’s bladder. You can prevent this with a proper diet.

Hypothyroidism: A condition caused when the underactive thyroid gland results in hypothyroidism. Symptoms include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Hair loss
  • Obesity
  • Lethargy
  • Hyperpigmentation
  •  Pyoderma and other skin conditions

Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is outwardly a painful disease that occurs when the bones of the back legs do not fit properly in the joints. While some dogs will exhibit symptoms, the majority of canines will not. Hip dysplasia is primarily genetic, although other causes, such as accidents, excessive weight gain, and inappropriate training, can also cause it. Even though this disease is fatal, therapies range from medicine to hip replacement surgery. Unfortunately, this condition causes defects or damage to the hip bones and joints and worsens without treatment. To avoid this problem, avoid breeding dogs with hip dysplasia parentage and get annual examinations.

Other Causes of Hip Dysplasia: 

  • Injuries 
  • Excessive weight gain 
  • Wrong exercises 

Symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs include:

  • Reduced activity and movements
  • Reluctance to rise, jump, run or climb
  • Lameness in the hind limbs
  • Reducing thigh muscle mass
  • Swaying, “bunny hopping” gait
  • Grating in the joint during movement
  • Enlarging shoulders
  • Pain
  • Stiffness

Elbow Dysplasia: This disorder occurs when the elbow joint bones don’t fit appropriately. Elbow dysplasia generates abnormal pressure at the joint, leading to chronic rubbing and painful osteoarthritis.


  • Mild to moderate pain 
  • Lameness in the forelimbs 

Urolithiasis: Dalmatians have a different urinary tract system, resulting in urinary tract stones (Urolithiasis). Dalmatians’ urine has uric acid instead of urea or allantoin. Salts of uric acid form stones, causing Urolithiasis. Large stones are deposited in the urethra, while small stones like gravel pass with the urine. Suppose these stones block the urinary tract, and your pup experiences pain. In that case, take him to the vet immediately. Else, it will be fatal for your Dalmatians. 

To get rid of this, provide your pet with enough water and foods low in purines. Also, consult a vet and check the dog’s urine for urate crystals. Research is being done to treat this disorder. Discuss with your vet.

Obesity: Obesity can be a significant health issue in Dalmatians. It is a severe disease that may cause or even worsen joint problems, metabolic and digestive disorders, heart disease, and back pain.

Epilepsy:  An inherited disorder for which the reason is unexplained. Dogs may experience seizures at one or another, but they seem typical within the events.  

Atopic Dermatitis (Atopy): This condition occurs when your canine is exposed to a substance in the environment, leading to an allergic reaction

Allergies are the immune system’s misdirected reaction to external chemicals, affecting people and dogs. In dogs, there are many distinct types of allergies. Skin allergies, food allergies, and environmental allergens pose problems for dogs and their owners; to make matters worse, the symptoms of all of these allergies often overlap. Following are the symptoms of allergies in dogs:  

  • Itchiness
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eyelids, or earflaps
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy ears
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Constant licking

Spay or Neuter: In spay, the ovaries or uterus in females is removed, and in neuter, the testicles of the male dogs are removed. It eliminates the possibility of pregnancy or fathering unwanted puppies and decreases the likelihood of certain types of cancer.

Recommended Tests for Dalmatian

  • X-Rays 
  • CT Scan 
  • Eye Examination 
  • Physical Examination 
  • Blood Work
  • Vet-certified proof of genetic testing
  • Hip Evaluation
  • BAER Test

Dalmatian Diet and Nutrition

Dalmatians need a large quantity of high-quality food and should eat 1.5 to 2 cups of meals daily. Each puppy is distinctive, and the correct amount and quality of food depend on age, weight, activity level, health, and more. You can split the meals into two 2 cups daily. 

Dalmatians are prone to obesity, and hence overfeeding must be avoided. Dalmatian pups can be given dry food, wet food, or both. Ensure the diet contains omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, chondroitin, and glucosamine. In addition, you can feed them with fruits and vegetables that give carbohydrates and energy. Never hesitate to consult a vet to meet your pup’s dietary requirements to keep them happy and healthy.

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Dalmatian Living Condition

Dalmatians love to be around their humans and are friendly and affectionate. They are not apartment-friendly and need sufficient space or homes with bigger yards. They love outdoor activities like swimming, walking, running, playing, hunting, and visiting dog parks. When allowed in a backyard, the place should be adequately fenced. Dalmatians are patient with kids but should never be left alone with children without supervision. They love the attention of their owners and develop strong bonds. They have a high prey drive but will get along with smaller animals and cats with early socialization and training. They are susceptible to anxiety when left alone for a long time. They can tolerate cold and hot weather conditions. They thrive on companionship, playtime, training, praise, and cuddles.

Did You Know?

  • Dalmatian puppies are born without spots.
  • Dalmatians were trained to bark when the fire alarm sounded. This alerted the observers that the fire wagons were starting from the station. As the horses approached the fire, dogs ran by them to keep them calm.
  • As firefighters, Dalmatians served as guardians protecting the fire wagons and horses from smugglers.
  • Owing to Dalmatian’s association with horses, in 1950, they were the official mascot for the Budweiser Clydesdales.
  • Dalmatian puppies have been owned by Ingrid Berman, Michael. J. Fox, singer Paula Abdul, and fashion designer Marc Jacobs.

Adding a Dalmatian to Your Family

Things to remember before adding a Dalmatian to your family

Getting a Dalmatian from a reputable breeder is best to prevent unavoidable circumstances like health disorders and provide you with vaccination certificates. It is best to check with the puppy’s parents to ensure his health and happiness. Always remember the following red flags to avoid backyard breeders and puppy mills.

  • Puppies are available around the year.
  • We recommend you visit the puppy and his parents and get health clearance and vaccination certificates, to avoid purchasing a weaker puppy.

Cost of a Dalmatian

A Dalmatian’s price ranges from $600 to $1200.

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